BBP BOE RACE: Daniel Bertran v. Brian Johnson (incumbent) – The Suffolk County News – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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The Suffolk County News asked the community in online forums to submit questions to the Board of Education candidates.

The compiled questions were then sent to the candidates via email and given a week to respond.

Here are their answers:

What do you find problematic or lacking in the current Board of Education’s performance in serving the community? How will electing you to the Board specifically address that deficit? (For incumbents: what have you accomplished in your tenure as a trustee that you feel has had great impact on the community?)

BERTRAN: I have heard the voices of many BBP residents that have felt that the Board has not sufficiently heard their concerns. I believe the Board has a responsibility to advocate for the entire community, including all parents, all students, and all faculty and staff. I believe insufficient transparency is the cause. I intend to not only listen, but to ensure full transparency on all decisions affecting the district and community.

JOHNSON: Prior to being elected, our school district was on the NYS Comptroller’s Fiscal Stress List after four years (2012-2015) of annual budget deficits of over $1 million per year lowering our reserves by nearly $5 million to 14.3%. Since joining, we have worked with Dr. Hearney to accomplish budget surpluses in five straight years and added $6.5 million to reserves which are now at healthy required levels. We have done this while still being able to double the school security budget, expand to our athletic/music programs, add over a dozen new clubs, double transportation offered, offer BOCES to both 11th and 12th graders, and establishing universal pre-k. We have also significantly increased the number of guidance counselors and social workers to further expand social emotional initiatives. Our governance team has accomplished this while completing a $30 million bond and staying within the tax cap (even coming well below it in the last two years).   Additionally, the board pursued and approved an energy performance contract that will add an additional $7 million in revenue to the district and provide additional flexibility to grow reserves, expand programs and/or lower annual tax increases.

I am proud to be part of the team that hired Dr. Timothy Hearney to lead our district. Under his leadership we were recognized a federal Blue ribbon school district. Our graduation rate (96%) and percentage of AP scholars rank amongst the best in Suffolk County and we are the #1 district in Suffolk County in student graduation within at least five years. Although the pandemic provided a difficult challenge in educating students, our district leadership and staff rose to the occasion

 Please define, in your own words, what Critical Race Theory (CRT) is. Please explain what you believe its role, if any, is appropriate the K-12 curriculum of your school district. If you do not believe it has a role in the K-12 curriculum, please explain why.

BERTRAN: Open and honest dialogue about race in America is important. American history has numerous examples where real teachable examples of racism existed and had an impact in our how country was shaped: Dred Scott, the 3/5ths Compromise, Brown v. Board, Tulsa Massacre, The American Civil War to name a few. CRT is (as described to me by self-described progressive proponents of CRT) a master’s level theory (or perhaps ideology) and as such ranges beyond the proper scope of relevant and productive K-12 education. Therefore, I do not believe it is an appropriate part of a K-12 curriculum.

JOHNSON: Critical Race Theory is a controversial topic; a myriad of perspectives and definitions are provided as a definition for CRT. From my personal research, I have concluded it as an academic premise that has been around for approximately 40 years at the post graduate level. The principles and core ideas are that racism may not just be a product of individual bias, further, it examines whether it may be part of larger social construct in society. As a BBP trustee for six years and a proud father of two BBP students, I am confident that critical race theory does not exist in our robust curriculum in our school district, more importantly, there is not a plan to incorporate it. Our curriculum is written based on NYS Next Generation Standards, NYS Social Studies Framework, and is locally driven by our district professionals. Our goal for our district’s curriculum is and will continue to be, we do not to teach our students what to think, rather, we teach our students how to think in order to prepare for the 21st century.

 Please define, in your own words, what Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) is. Please explain what you believe its role, if any, is appropriate in the K-12 curriculum of your school

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